African-American plea: Uganda wasn't freed to jail gays

The Rev. Gilbert H. Caldwell (Photo courtesy of BU.edu)
The Rev. Gilbert H. Caldwell (Photo courtesy of BU.edu)

From: Rev. Gilbert H. Caldwell

Dear Colleagues,

I write these words with a heavy heart, an inability to understand nor comprehend the actions of the Ugandan Parliament, and a sense of depression, following my rejoicing in response to the accomplishments of Nelson Mandela.

Poster for "Love Heals Homophobia."
Poster for “Love Heals Homophobia.”

I share this as an 80-year-old African-American who was active in the Civil Rights Movement, as a Christian, and as one who had the honor and joy of being a participant in the film “Love Heals Homophobia”.

Nelson Mandela became the President of a South Africa that in its re-birth, embraced in its Constitution and other documents, the rights of LGBT persons and same-gender-loving couples.

South Africa through the influence of Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and many others, believes that justice and equality for black persons is superficial if does not also embrace others, particularly those who are sexual minorities. Why has that not happened in Uganda?

My first trip to the continent of Africa was in 1971, 42 years ago. I visited Tanzania to participate in a Consultation of African and African American Church and Government leaders. The sense of harmony we experienced at that meeting, despite our differences, was overwhelming.

I would value another such a meeting again to discuss the human rights of LGBT persons and same-sex couples, as those rights relate to the long struggles of Africans in Africa, in America and in other parts of the world.

I, as a Christian minister am continually shocked when black persons in Africa
and in the USA do not understand that the use of the Bible and Christian teaching that once justified slavery and racial segregation in Africa and the USA is being replicated to demean and abuse same-gender-loving persons. How strange it is that a people who because of their race once and still now, knew/know separation and segregation because of their race, do the same to people because of their sexual orientation.

We sing in Christian churches  “Love came down at Christmas” during Advent
and Christmas. How tragic it is that the Ugandan Parliament through its legislation abuses the meaning of the one called Jesus, whom  God sent into human history many years ago. The world has seen the abuse of  black South Africans during apartheid. How does Uganda and its governmental and church leaders want to be portrayed as historians and film makers portray today’s legal enslavement of Ugandans because they are same-gender-loving?

Christians, and those who are not Christian, are overwhelmed as they read and see pictures of the acts of dehumanization of  black persons in pre-Independent Africa. The same will take place as they read and see pictures of the dehumanization of homosexual persons in Uganda.

Do the church and governmental leaders of Uganda care?

Rev. Gilbert H. Caldwell
Asbury Park, New Jersey/USA

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at [email protected]

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  1. Hello Reverend and Colin Stewart, Uganda, as your title outlines, was not ‘freed’ by the likes of you or your African American predecessors. Colonialism was brought through the ‘book’ and reinforced by the ‘gun’. No one has said we as Africans never had homosexuals in our midst, we had them. But it was a vice and it is still a vice not to be encouraged. Sexual orientation as you put it is a term that has been used to obscure abnormality. By definition, wikipedia states; “Deviation from Social Norms defines the departure or deviation of an individual, from society’s unwritten rules (norms). For example if one was to witness a man jumping around, nude, on the streets, the man would be perceived as abnormal, as he has broken society’s norms about wearing clothing. There are also a number of criteria for one to examine before reaching a judgment as to whether someone has deviated from society’s norms.” It is therefore by this aspect of definition that i project to you that history is repeating itself through the likes of the revered reverend where he is using the ‘cloak’ and ‘dagger’ approach in remonstrating with others over what we should and should not take into our societal norms. Homosexuality has been abhorred in the Bible that is his work tool. Sexual orientation as I perceive it, is a marketing tool for encompassing societal ills and justifying it through the various ‘chapters and articles’ enshrined in the prescribed ‘ human rights’. Currently, there are children that are being encouraged to ‘pursue’ and explore their ‘sexuality’ and be proud of their orientation. currently, they are homosexuals. In the future, if their orientation lies in having sex with other minors, will it be a minor form of pedophiliac tendency sodomy, or will it be acknowledged as a sexual orientation? Give us a break! Now, as in the past, you want to sanction Uganda by denying them the much needed aid, monies that was illegally harvested from your great, great relatives revered reverend. How quickly you chose to forget.

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